Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

It's the listings stupid….

Today Better Homes & Gardens rolled out an update to their BHGRealEstate.com consumer facing website. They have done a superb job and the improvements are markedly better to their previous iteration. One thing Sherry Chris and her team has done very well is the attention to design. The site just screams of quality, and a certain airy lightness to it. Simply gorgeous, and very intuitive.

It is by far the best design of all other Realogy websites.

I did a few searches on the new site and got back few listings, which is understandable since BH&G is still a relatively new franchise. So I went over to BH&G sister company sites from Realogy. I did the same search on each of them: I typed in 92648 and clicked search. Here’s my results.

century21.com => 23 listings found
coldwellbanker.com => 41 listings found
era.com = > 40 listings found

Seemed way low.

So I did a search upon for zip code 92648 on a few other sites.

realtor.com => 373 listings found
remax.com => 404 listings found
roost.com => 339 listings found

Betcha can't find the listings!
Find the listings!

So, on average, (according to my very unscientific test) other real estate portals are showing up to 10 TIMES MORE LISTINGS than Realogy websites. 10 TIMES MORE LISTINGS!!!

Now on some of the these Realogy websites you get a button that says something to the effect of “Would you like to see more listings?”

“Well F-Yeah, I want to see more listings! What’s so special about your listings? And why are you making me jump through more hoops??”

It’s like going to a restaurant to being handed a menu with three entrees, but the menu also includes a quick map to go fetch another menu in the back of the restaurant with more choices.

Would you ever go back to that restaurant again?

And don’t blame IDX, this is not an IDX display issue, it’s an implementation issue.

So, can someone tell me that why in the year 2009, where everyone agrees that close to 90% of homebuyers go to the internet first to search for home, Realogy is still only showing their own listings?

Seriously, I want to know.


Joel at FOREM has also posted a review.

  1. I completely agree, if I am going to use a home search tool I am assuming (and hoping) that I am seeing all of the listings for the area, not just listings in this particular system. I mean, this is why why created the MLS’s in the first place! My IDX system grabs everything from the MLS, everything listed in their system. Zillow and Trulia still only list their own listings I believe, which is misleading for someone who is searching for a home on their website.

  2. It’s what happens when marketing experts are allowed to use marketing concepts to drive the business rather than business experts to drive the marketing of their product. Similar problem when sites are over-engineered by the techies. There needs to be a balance.

    While the user experience might be important it won’t make up for lacking the appropriate content. For a real estate site there is only two real purposes–help consumers buy/sell homes and help an agent close the deal.

    If your site doesn’t accomplish that it is useless. No matter how many web design awards you win.

    Like you said, if they have the listings and make it too difficult to find them then what good is the site?

  3. So I did a search upon for zip code 92648 on a few other sites.

    realtor.com => 373 listings found
    remax.com => 404 listings found
    roost.com => 339 listings found

    Just wanted to provide a little background on the discrepancies between roost.com, remax.com and realtor.com.

    We have the least listing out of these three because we filter out the rentals that are in the MLS and we take out anything that is in contract.

    Just wanted people to understand why.

    Derek Overbey
    Sr. Director of Marketing & Social Media

  4. Greg, thanks for your comments and thanks for noticing our site redesign…we’ve tried very hard to keep our brand identity consistent with our brand image, and create something that looks fresh and new…this is version 1.1 and the list of ideas we have for improvement grows faster than we can roll them out. Thanks again for the feedback.

    Camilla Sullivan
    SVP Marketing
    Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC

  5. Greg, very flattering comments above on the redesigned home page, etc. I think you hit on one of our core philosophies as a brand and that is to always challenge the status quo keeping the consumer/affiliate our number one priority. As a real estate franchisor we don’t have the right to display IDX listings on bhgrealestate.com.

    We chose to take a different approach than some of the other brands in areas where we have affiliate coverage (New City, NY) as we direct the consumer to our local affiliate’s web site where they see all of the MLS listings in ONE click. Try searching for New City, NY on our site and you will see that you are seamlessly transferred to randrealty.com, our newest affiliate.

    Hope that helps,

    Jason Steele
    VP Interactive Marketing
    Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC

  6. @Jason The example you gave with “New City, NY” is fantastic! The consumer is handed off to a site that mirrors the corporate site very well and shows all the listings, not just Realogy listings. This is an excellent example of how the site should work everywhere.

    But when I search in “Jupiter, FL” I get a quite different experience.

    I have a good understanding of Realogy’s SearchRouter technology and happy to hear that BH&G is working towards an alternative to this solution.

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